Brushes - need some recommendations

Raven Morpheus

Gang Champion
Nov 19, 2017
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Hey all

I think I'm in need of a couple of new "detail" brushes. I keep on buying Creative Models Red Kolinsky Sable brushes, size 1 and 0, at about £2.50 a pop but I find they don't last long - doesn't help that I'm an animal with brushes, I tend to use the same brush for small area drybrushing as well as base coating and highlights, and I just rinse them out in a plastic shot glass of water and wipe them dry/clean on paper towel!

However I don't want to be spending too much, in the past I bought a few Windsor and Newton Series 7 brushes and they've not fared any better than the Creative Models brushes.

I've heard of Rosemary and Co. but they're similarly priced to W&N (£7+ per brush).

GW have gone synthetic and I'm not too keen on synthetic brushes.

So, does anyone here have any recommendations for any other cheap, reasonable lasting, whilst not necessarily being cared well for, size 1 or 0, natural material brushes?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Stoof

Yakmarines 2nd Co. Word Priest
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Tribe Council
Jun 1, 2016
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This is the exact question I intended to ask a while ago.

Like you I use the same brush for almost everything, and similarly don't particularly care for them.

I ended up buying a pack of Royal Taklon synthetic detail brushes and frankly they're as good as any other brush I've ever used.

Real sable brushes really don't seem to like the kind of treatment we give them. You need to wash them properly and condition them and never let them see you using an old one to dry brush with and rock them to sleep at night... For people with actual lives, synth all the way 😜
 

MusingWarboss

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Oct 31, 2013
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Right! Brushes. I too used to be a “one brush for all” chap, except dry brushing as I’ve always had a dedicated drybrush. Originally Citadel but later Army Painter.

In the 90s you used to be able to get a 3 brush pack from Citadel (Standard, Fine detail and Small Drybrush) and I often still use that triad of brush sizes for things!

So that equates to 3/0, 0 and an older fatter crappy one.

I’m surprised you found Rosemary & Co. expensive, I’ve always found them reasonable for their range. Plus they’re super quick and getting them to you!!

If you want Kolinsky Sable then expect bigger prices.
Regular Sable will do most painters just fine.
Also don’t forget a good golden synthetic!!

So in the R&C range I have used and would recommend:
Series 33, Kolinsky Sable, 3/0 - 1 sizes. Roughly around £5-£7 a brush.

Series 99, Red Sable, 3/0 - 1 sizes. Roughly £2.60-£3 a brush.

Series 301, Golden Synthetic, 3/0 - 1 sizes. Roughly £1.85-£2.15 a brush.

These are all from their watercolour range.

I prefer a short handle for miniature painting.

I also highly recommend Windsor & Newton Series 7, though you really need to take care of them with some soap. Never use for washes, contrast, dry brushing, picking your nose etc.

It depends on what level of painting you’re going for, if its plain base-shade-highlight then I would bother with anything fancy at all. A decent synthetic or red Sable will do.

I’d say : Kolinsky if you want the smoothest of blends and highlights, crisper details etc.

Red Sable for a full do it all workhorse brush.

Synthetics for washes, contrast and metallics (yeah I know we all ignore that last one!!).

I’ve also used some Artus Opus but again, super pricy and you need to take care of them.

Daler Rowney also do some decent student brushes (cheap, durable).

One thing is that all brushes need care and even your synthetics will get hook or splayed tips. You can smooth them out with hot water though. I’ve even heard people use hand sanitiser to clean and restore synthetic brushes.

But one last note... just buy a drybrush: GW’s are fine, AP’s are excellent and super cheap and save your other brushes some wear!!
 
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Raven Morpheus

Gang Champion
Nov 19, 2017
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Thanks @MusingWarboss, I'll take a look at some of those. But, yes, when you're pretty much chucking a brush out after 3-6 months, and you're on a limited budget anyway, £5-£7 for one brush is a bit steep.

This is the exact question I intended to ask a while ago.

Like you I use the same brush for almost everything, and similarly don't particularly care for them.

I ended up buying a pack of Royal Taklon synthetic detail brushes and frankly they're as good as any other brush I've ever used.

Real sable brushes really don't seem to like the kind of treatment we give them. You need to wash them properly and condition them and never let them see you using an old one to dry brush with and rock them to sleep at night... For people with actual lives, synth all the way


Yes this is the problem I have, I'm just not fastidious enough to do proper brush care between sessions.
 

breegull

Juve
Mar 29, 2022
32
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If you're in the US:

Jerry's Artarama has special pricing on a ton of artist paintbrushes. Packs of 1-3 brushes are steeply discounted to make it easy for artists to try a new type of brush before committing to larger purchases.

Since these are mostly geared towards painters working on canvas etc., the smallest brush sizes are in low demand and often extra extra cheap. Like, a few dollars per brush.

You do have to pay attention to handle length since some are long-handled. But IMO who cares if you end up needing to chop down the handle of a medium-to-high-quality brush you got for $2?

Anyways, I just buy a bunch of different types of brushes, including kolinsky, imitation kolinsky, taklon, hogshair for applying oil washes, etc. And then I live the guilt-free life of using whatever brush seems the best suited a task, and not beating myself up if a brush gets messed up somewhere down the line.
 

cronevald

Gang Hero
Jun 5, 2016
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I miss the old red handled GW brushes. They weren't the best but you always knew what you were getting and they worked just fine. The newer ones just seem really inconsistent in terms of quality. This is a useful thread for me as I've also been having trouble finding good brushes.
 
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